All 41 Senate Republicans have sent a letter to President Obama demanding that the Senate Judiciary Committee, now led by Patrick Leahy, respect the time-honored procedure of blue slipping for judicial nominees to give them a route to kill nominees they don't like. Blue slipping is the procedure whereby a senator from a judicial nominees home state can prevent that nominee from getting a committee vote merely by refusing to respond to a perfunctory letter from the committee chairman about the nomination.
They demand that the blue slipping policy "be observed, even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation" and threaten that if this is not done, they will be forced to filibuster his nominees. Now let's travel back in time to the distant past of 2003, when Bush was in charge and the Democrats were in the minority. How did the Senate Republicans feel about blue slipping and judicial filibusters then?
In 1994, when Republicans took control of the Senate and Bill Clinton was president, the blue slipping rule was strictly enforced. More than 60 Clinton nominees to the bench were prevented from getting even a committee hearing, much less a full floor vote, by the objection of a single senator from their home state. Jesse Helms blocked every single nominee from the state of North Carolina during the Clinton administration.
But after Bush was elected president, suddenly the blue slip procedure seemed not to matter. When Orrin Hatch took over as chair of the Judiciary Committee, he said, "There's a real question of whether blue slips should be honored, and I haven't resolved that question in my mind yet." It didn't take him long to resolve the question.
First he started demanding that both senators from a nominee's home state object to a nominee before honoring the blue slip rule. Then when he felt like it, even two was not enough. In 2003, for example, he overrode the blue slips of both Michigan senators and held hearings on 4 judicial nominees. It was neither the first time nor the last time he would do so.
They're so cute, running to Obama like he's daddy. "Daaad, Patrick may take our toys away! Make him give them back!"
Isn't it amazing how procedures the majority party has no use for suddenly become critical concerns when they're in the minority again? It's just like those toys you never gave two shits for - until your sibling started playing with them.